2013 COMMENTARY–Online Updates for Area Sports … Who Really Cares? Apparently,You Do!

Data on Cooney football games reveals impact of social media

By Gary Wipperman

We are used to checking ESPN.com or NFL.com for up to the minute sports scores.  This is especially true when we are away from a television and the Packers, Badgers, Brewers, and Bucks are playing – (OK, well maybe not the Bucks). We are constantly refreshing our screens to get the very latest on that scoring drive, base hit, or buzzer beater. We have become an “always online” society and expect any news we receive will be the very latest.   At a national and even state level this is not a new occurrence. Ask your kids what options are available to get news, weather, and sports updates when you’re away from home and you will most likely get an eye roll and a look that confirms you are indeed a dinosaur.  So, we are used to getting our state and national sports updates by the minute delivered to our PC, tablet, smartphone, or even smart TV.  What about local sports updates?  Is there a demand for that in our community? I decided to put that question to the test the past two weeks and you may be surprised to at the results.

Prep sports is a burgeoning market as providers such as wissports.net, maxpreps.com, and rivals.com can attest. These are national websites that make their living by reporting up to the minute information as it relates to high school sports. These companies earn revenue through advertisers to their website–often companies that tailor to sports equipment are their primary clients. In addition, they pocket revenue by offering fee-based subscriptions to their viewers for premium access to their website. This access generally includes more in-depth and timely information related to an upcoming game, playoffs, or the recruiting of a top athlete.

As you can imagine, social media is at the forefront of this movement. You will be hard pressed to find teams or schools that don’t have a Twitter/Facebook account and use it to relay information to their fans. News organizations have been successful at leveraging the social media community to serve as free reporters for their organization. Several years ago Wissports.net began posting Wisconsin high school football scoring updates under the hashtag #wisfb. Since then, Twitter enthusiasts who are at these events get an opportunity each Friday night to be “news correspondents” as they blast out scoring updates to the Twitterverse using the now famous hashtag #wisfb.

You may think this is a national or regional phenomenon only and doesn’t really apply in Oconomowoc or Lake Country. Think again. Living Lake Country reporter JR Radcliff covers local sports in Lake Country and attends dozens of games in all sports throughout the course of a season.   What is worth noting is that at last count he has 822 followers on his Twitter page @JRRadcliff.  Why?  Because when he attends these events in addition to reporting on it the next day for the online paper he tweets updates throughout the event, letting his followers know exactly what is going on at the event he is attending.  His updates are not just scores by quarter or half. During the span of the Oconomowoc-Mukwonago Level 3 playoff game he tweeted 28 times. That is a tweet for every two minutes of action. Once the event is over he then returns home and completes his article for Living Lake Country and posts it online before midnight. Do his readers really want or need that much attention?

So, what about our community?  I put my Oconomowoc Raccoons football fans to the test during the 2013 WIAA playoffs.  Maxpreps.com has an online schedule of games and encourages unpaid volunteers to sign up and score the game they attend live.  I took the plunge and signed up. Maxpreps sent me an SMS text message to my smartphone with a link to the game I volunteered to score.  I then broadcast that link to our Twitter (@oconomowoctoday) and Facebook community to alert our followers. How did it turn out?

On the Monday following Friday night’s game Maxpreps.com sent an e-mail to me with the reporting figures of how many views our game had compared to other games scored online across the United States.  The results were jaw-dropping.

10/27 – 11/3/2013

1. Aledo (TX) @ Granbury (TX)                                     6,151
2. Middleton (WI) @ Oconomowoc (WI)      5,422
3. Garfield (CA) @ Roosevelt (CA)                                5,113
4. Warner Robins (GA) @ Northside (GA)                  5,068
5.  St. John Bosco (CA) @ Mater Dei (CA)                   4,690

In the body of the e-mail was this message from CBS Sports (owner of Quixcore) to all of the online scorers.

Beloved Quixcorers,
1,077 games were completed this past week.  I know it always seems like a big market team from Texas or California seem to win each and every week.  That is true this week as the Aledo vs. Granbury game in Texas got 6151 views.  What is really nice to see is the second place finisher was the Oconomowoc vs. Middleton game in Wisconsin.  Gary Wipperman really had a lot of followers!

I thought maybe this was some crazy fluke or anomaly so I tested it again the next week to see if I would get similar results.  Now, we know the Mukwonago game was very one-sided so I would expect our number of online views to go down, right?   Nope. It actually increased even though our ranking dropped  nationally.

11/4 – 11/10/2013

1,090 Football Games in the US Completed.  The Top 5 below:

  1. Kilgore (TX) @ Gilmer (TX) – 6,677 views
  2. Andover (MN) @ Chaska (MN) – 6,192 views
  3. Catholic Memorial (WI) @ Monona Grove (WI) – 5,985 views
  4. Oconomowoc (WI) @ Mukwonago (WI) – 5,522 views
  5. Rocklin (CA) @ Del Oro (CA) – 4,905 views

So, what does all this tell us?  I suppose much like the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” (yes, a dinosaur classic) the adage holds true, if we build it … you will come.

Look for more online scoring this winter in boys and girls’ basketball from Oconomowoc Today.  Links will always appear on our Twitter page @Oconomowoc Today.

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